27 December 2012
Last updated at 03:30
2012 was marked by some major controversies in the world of art and culture. Some made little impact outside of the countries in which they occurred, and others were felt on an international scale. Perhaps none more so than the arrest, trial, and imprisonment of Russian protest band Pussy Riot. In February, five members of the punk band staged a guerrilla performance in a Moscow cathedral directed at its leader's support for President-elect Vladimir Putin during his election campaign. The trial and convictions of Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spurred scenes of support and protest throughout the world.
In March, researchers in Italy found what they thought were traces of a possible Leonardo Da Vinci work hidden under Giorgio Vasari's The Battle of Marciano in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Tiny probes, guided through holes drilled in the fresco, detected the same black pigment used in Da Vinci world-famous painting of the Mona Lisa, project leader Maurizio Seracini claimed. Some art experts disputed the findings and signed a petition to stop the investigation, claiming the drilling was damaging Vasari's existing work.
In May, prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games, the twisting red steel tower - known as AcelorMittal Orbit - was officially unveiled. Famously described by London mayor Boris Johnson as a "hubbly-bubbly", the price charged to visitors who wanted to climb the 35-storey, £22.7m sculpture - the tallest in the UK - was criticised. Even designer Anish Kapoor admitted "£15 is a hell of a lot of money, frankly."
South Korean pop artist Psy took the world by storm with the music video for soon-to-be cult track, Gangnam Style, which has notched up more than 800m views on YouTube. Even dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei uploaded a video of himself and friends parodying Psy's famous horse-riding dance. Wearing a pair of handcuffs, he appeared to be mocking his two-month incarceration in 2011 which preceded him being charged with tax evasion. British artist Anish Kapoor recorded his own version, in support of his fellow artist.
In August, Cecilia Gimenez, an elderly Spanish woman in her eighties became something of an unwitting celebrity when she took it upon herself to attempt to restore a treasured fresco of Jesus Christ. Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), by Elias Garcia Martinez, has adorned the walls of the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza for more than 100 years. Gimenez's botched restoration job cause hilarity around the world though she remained unrepentant claiming she had permission from her local priest to carry out the restoration.
Controversial siblings Jake and Dinos Chapman's latest work, at a gallery in Lancashire, was branded "tasteless" and of "absolutely no artistic value whatsoever". The work, depicting Adolf Hitler as a crazy golf ornament salutes when a ball passes through it. The gallery's curator said the work was a chance to "ridicule" the dictator.
"The Lady of The North" or Northumberlandia - standing 112ft (34m) high at her tallest point and 1,300ft (400m) long - was unveiled in September. The public artwork, created by artist Charles Jencks, was built into the landscape of Cramlington in Northumberland. The huge sculpture was made using 1.5m tonnes of rock, soil, stone and clay lead to some nicknaming her "Slag Alice". It is hoped it will rival the popularity of the Angel of the North, 12 miles away in Gateshead.
Her thirty year career has been marked by controversy and outrage, and in 2012, Madonna showed she is still unafraid to ruffle feathers. Her world tour saw the 53-year-old flash a breast in Paris and a bottom in Rome; in Moscow she appealed for the release of Pussy Riot from jail, and she urged tolerance in France following her use of an image of the local National Front Party leader, Marine Le Pen, with a swastika imposed on her face. But it was her use of prop weapons and gun imagery in the months, following a cinema shooting in Colorado which killed 12, that upset some US fans.
In October, Vladimir Umanets, founder of an art movement he calls "Yellowism", scrawled his name on the Mark Rothko painting Black on Maroon at the Tate Modern in London. Appearing under another name Wlodzimierz Umaniec, the Polish national pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage and was jailed for two years. Experts claimed the damage could take some 18 months to repair, and cost about £200,000. Earlier this year, Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow sold for £53.8m - the highest price paid for a piece of post-War art at auction.
Turner-prize winning artist Damien Hirst delighted and frustrated residents of Ilfracombe in Devon in equal measure with Verity, his 65ft-high (20m) bronze statue of a naked pregnant woman wielding a sword. The huge artwork, which weighs around 25 tonnes, arrived on the harbour, carried on the back on a flat-bed lorry in October. Described variously as "wonderful... fantastic... awful... horrible..." locals will have some time to get used to their new neighbour, she is on loan from the artist, who lives locally, for the next 20 years.